Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Several criminal characters are given rap sheets that follow this pattern. At the very beginning, the narrator says that Virgil is wanted for "robbery, attempted murder, and illegal possession of a wart". Later, as Virgil assembles a gang to rob a bank, the narrator reveals what each of them has served time for—one was "bank robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and getting naked in front of his in-laws"; another was just "dancing with a mailman"; the third was "arson, robbery, assault with intent to kill, and marrying a horse".
Brandishment Bluff: Virgil carves a bar of soap into the shape of a gun and paints it black with shoe polish in order to escape from prison. He gets caught out, though, when it starts to rain during his escape and his "gun" turns into a bunch of bubbles.
Eat the Evidence: When going over plans to rob a bank with his accomplices, Virgil says he'll show films of the bank they will be robbing. Virgil announces that they are going to see them just once... and to destroy the evidence, they're going to eat the film afterward.
Film Felons: Virgil stages one bank robbery to look like a movie shoot, complete with a camera and a very eccentric man as "the director".
The Illegible: A bank robbery is foiled when tellers can't read Virgil's hold up note. It sparks an argument throughout the entire bank over whether he wrote "gun" or "gub", "act natural" or "abt natural."
Incredibly Obvious Bug: Virgil devises a way to take a hidden camera into a bank he is scouting out for a planned robbery. It's hidden in a loaf of bread, which Virgil repeatedly holds up to his face as one would an ordinary camera.
The Not So Harmless Punishment: Played with. A pretty nasty punishment turns out to be even more harmful. As the narrator states, "Food on a chain gang is scarce and not very nourishing. The men get one hot meal a day... a bowl of steam." This is shortly followed by the inverse of the trope, a man who didn't give a good day's work is hauled into another room, and the warden takes Virgil over to show him "what he's got to look forward to". In a parody of a classic scene from I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, we see the shadow of what appears to be the man tied to the ceiling being whipped by another guard (and sounds of whipping and the prisoner wincing seem to confirm this), but after Virgil and the warden walk through the door, we find out that the guard is whipping the prisoner's shadow, instead.
Parental Neglect: Virgil was raised by his grandfather because his parents were never around for him. At least, until said grandfather got a Tap on the Head.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Virgil’s parents refuse to show their faces on camera when interviewed, but hide their identities with Groucho Marx glasses.
Punishment Box: Virgil is locked in one of these at one point... with an insurance salesman.
Running Gag: Virgil getting his glasses stomped on. It slowly escalates throughout the film, starting with some kid gangster, then a garbage man, then adult gangster, and finally a judge getting in on the action.
It even becomes monologue dissonance at one point during Louise and Virgil’s Falling in Love Montage. The music is very appropriate, but it’s dubbed over with a speech from Virgil about how he knew he was in love because he was “slightly nauseous.”
Stupid Crooks: Virgil can't ever commit a successful crime, and is usually foiled by stupid mistakes, like misspelling a holdup note.
Technology Marches On: One of the film's big laugh lines comes when Virgil, bluffing his way through a job interview, is asked if he's "ever had any experience running a high-speed digital electronic computer", and answers in the affirmative, adding, "My aunt has one."